Log in

e-Learning to improve young people's chances: NZ Institute paper

imageMore ladders, fewer snakes - a recently released paper from the NZ Institute (Boven, Harland and Grace, 2011)(PDF) -  proposes two interventions to improve outcomes for New Zealand’s youth: accelerating the roll-out of e-learning to low decile schoolsand improving the school-to-work transition.”

 This paper puts the levels of achievement – or lack of it – of many of New Zealand’s youth in the context of current research regarding poor retention rates in school, particularly the performance of Māori and Pasifika students, comparing our performance to that of other young people in the OECD.

It looks across dimensions of education, health and safety, crime, teenage pregnancy and unemployment and considers what would make a difference in enhancing young people's life chances, particularly in employment and socialization.

According to this paper, effective e-learning practice is one of two ‘ladders’ to help people up. Why? It asserts that

“e-learning, combined with a school improvement programme, improves student engagement and learning outcomes. There are successful examples of decile one primary schools [such as Manaia View School and Pt England School] using e-learning."

Key advantages stated include :

  • Content can be more efficiently personalised for individuals and reviewed.
  • Students can be supported to collaborate, take control of their learning and connect with global audiences.
  • One-to-one device use seems to correlate with an increase in collaboration and inquiry amongst students.
  • The teaching paradigm shifts from teacher-centric to a more co-operative mode, focusing increasingly in individuals.
  • eLearning is intrinsically engaging, and it can reach those previously disengaged.
  • It makes student participation visible for prompt follow-up.

“E-learning can reach everyone and improve outcomes for those already disadvantaged,” says Dr Boven. “It should be scaled urgently and systematically with the initial priority being the lowest decile schools.”

Successful scaling will require:

  • Provision of a turnkey technology solution to the schools;
  • Development and communication of the principles to guide school improvement and to deploy e-learning;
  • Resources at a district level to ensure professional support is available where and when it is needed; and
  • Effective mechanisms for identification and transfer of best practice”.

Challenges are clear.  Schools that make a difference do so because they have “high resource input and leaders who have relevant specialised skills. They are grouped in clusters so learning from leading schools can be shared with other schools and economies of scale can be accessed”. It calls for a “model of best practice transfer” to rapidly roll-out e-learning.”

 Does this ring true for you? Where would you start?

[cross-posted from the eLearning Research Network]


  • Enabling e-Learning

    And here is the podcast from Radio NZ National [24 July 2011] in which Chris Laidlaw interviews Rick Boven on the report above:

    Rick Boven: Chris talks to Rick Boven from the NZ Institute about their discussion paper, More Ladders, Fewer Snakes: Two Proposals to Reduce Youth Advantage (21′42″)  |  Download: Ogg Vorbis  MP3